John 6:35, 41-51
“Whether in the sprint or the marathon-it’s still a walk to the podium.”
I’ve mentioned before of the time I worked in a one roomed building with 2,000 people. That’s a lot of people and it was like its own community where people’s worth and standing was essentially understood and judged by what went on in that building. Which was interesting because from my previous experiences I knew people working there who had been business leaders, but now were considered well down the ladder, and to see the lack of respect for their abilities by others not knowing of their past was for want of another word “interesting”. (and) in all truth, due to the constant deadlines, looking below the surface of the person in front of you was somewhat a “luxury” and the same can so easily sneak into our daily lives from being too busy or just falling into the same old same old.
In my team within that organisation were too middle age ladies working on the base salary and answering to colleagues with much less life experience. But they never seemed for a moment indifferent to where they found themselves. They were always just there doing their work quietly, friendly and efficiently. Eventually, I got to talk with them. One I found was a qualified doctor in her home country, but being in Australia had to, and was undergoing further study to be recognised in that field-I wonder if her colleagues would have treated her differently if they had known just who they were working with.
The other lady, who upon receiving her resignation I came to find out was leaving because she had successfully completed her studies to become a psychiatrist. Surprised and a little embarrassed I mentioned that if I knew that, I would have led and acted a “little” more conventionally. To which she “graciously” thanked me for our time together as I had given her a great deal of material for her thesis.
Author’s say, based on our own life experiences everyone has one book in them and some of the most enlightening books I read are autobiography’s where quite often by the end I am stunned, saddened and inspired why what has taken place in that person’s life.
My father once can to know a younger man who was a loner, indifferent, always scruffy and without work. A person on the outer fringes of society with seemingly not a lot to offer. The type that can be seen lying on park benches and passed by without giving much consideration. The type of man that society judges harshly. This man, judged daily on all bar one. The day he walks with his fellow Vietnam veterans on Anzac day.
What we see is not always what we get but being misunderstood by others is only all too well known by God the Father and our Saviour Jesus. In today’s Gospel, the Saviour, Jesus reveals himself as the long awaited messiah, only to be disregarded because of their preconceived understandings:
“Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say I have come down from heaven?”
The Jews reject Jesus because they can only see him; judge him through human values and standards. Their reaction in the face of Jesus claim was to produce the fact that He was a carpenter’s son and they had seen him grow up in Nazareth. They were unable to understand he could possibly be a messenger from God and rejected Him by human assessments and by social values and worldly standards. Jesus came to bring them what they yearned for-a saviour-yet they rejected both him and his offer of God’s grace because he did not fit the “box” of what they had expected.
That Vietnam Vet who was prepared to die for the people of his country, but now discarded by society and sleeping on a park bench-what must he think? Disillusioned maybe an understatement.
Jesus, who did die for his people-but discarded by large parts of our society as of no use anymore-how in his love he must grieve the rejection of the peace he offers. Somewhere along the line society seems more interested with spirituality that is seen as more exciting and tangible. Where everything must be felt and if that “wow” factor is not there something must be wrong.
The Church too is not immune against falling into this mindset. Where worship has to be “awesome” all the time. Where our worship has to feel like a Usain Bolt moment in the Olympic 100 metres final with all the razzmatazz. Don’t get me wrong, any worship of our Lord is good worship and we should always look for ways to bring his message to his people and if you have a bolt of lightning moment here or during the week cherish it and thank the Lord. But we don’t always have to feel like we are flying in the clouds to know we have been lifted up on high. Often, and on most occasions we receive the Lord in more normal, seemingly unspectacular moments here and in life in general. Far from a Hussein Bolt moment but more like that an Ethiopian Gold medallist mentioned many years ago when talking their national tri-outs. Where he said often the most brilliant of your opponents are the ones that just turn up from out in the lands in their bare feet-they don’t look anything special, but then run like gazelles.
Our lives with Christ, whether we run in the sprint or the marathon-we all only walk to the podium.
The same can be in worship. Sometimes we miss the point of it all, when maybe disillusioned or still feeling a little empty because we feel like all we did was just turn up and leave.
Yes it is most certainly only fitting and right and is truly good, and proper in worship and our lives to give thanks to our loving Father, who through Jesus Christ our Lord, who laid down His life for us. But in our lives and in our worship today-the primary reason the Lord has drawn us here is to give to us. To hear His Word-His Word that works in us regardless of if we feel it working or not. To confess our sins and know in faith that we are forgiven-because he says they are. To place our prayers at our fathers’ feet and know that he hears them and will act on them in a manner that is beneficial to us and others-even if it does not seem so. And to receive the Body and Blood of our Saviour and be strengthened in faith and life.
These amazing things are taking place here in our quiet little church-today. Today, whether you may be having a “Hussein Bolt” moment or not-the heavenlies are. Saints past and present are joined with the angels in glorious song and praise of our Father for what is happening here today. Praising our Lord and saviour because they can see what we cannot.
To see what we know in faith. Our Lord standing before us-glowing in radiance and love and giving everything of himself too us, that we may live in him. In the strength of the bread of life during our trek through this worldly wilderness until we reach our eternal home. When we will stand before our loving God and our Saviour as they welcome us home in the realisation of the promise and gifts that they give to us here today. What a great day that will be, and what a great day is this. Praise be to Christ. Amen.